Purebred Dalmatians, sometimes known as carriage dogs or firehouse dogs, are most often recognised as medium-to-large white dogs with black spots. Their spotting, however, can take a variety of colours and patterns. The increasing trend toward hybrid dogs has led the Dog Registry of America and the International Designer Canine Registry to recognise several common Dalmatian hybrids. Although some hybrids have official names recognised by the Dog Registry of America, they are not purebred dogs, and are therefore not recognised by the American Kennel Club. Don't be fooled into paying premium prices for dogs that are mixed breed dogs with cutesy names. There are plenty of mixed breed dogs in shelters at a fraction of the price.
Purebred Dalmatians are typically 20 to 24 inches tall with an average weight of 24.9 Kilogram. They are muscular with a deep chest, brown or blue eyes and rounded ears that hang down. Their noses are black, dark grey, brown or blue. Dalmatian breeders producing show dogs prefer dogs with black or brown, also known as liver, spotting, though Dalmatians can also be solid white, have lemon, dark blue or sable spots, or be brindled or tricoloured. Though Dalmatians make great watch dogs, they are also highly energetic and require a moderately large yard, several walks each day, and enough training and stimulation to prevent destructive behaviours, such as digging and chewing.
Also referred to as a dalmador or labradal retriever, the delmador is a Dalmatian and Labrador retriever hybrid recognised by the International Designer Canine Registry. The delmador is approximately the same size as a purebred Dalmatian, and comes in many colour variations. Some delmadors have spots similar to their Dalmatian ancestors, while others have a mainly solid coat similar to their Labrador retriever ancestors, and everything in between. Delmadors are generally friendly, playful and often energetic. They, like purebred Dalmatians, work well as watch dogs.
The International Designer Canine Registry recognised goldmation retriever as a golden retriever and Dalmatian hybrid. Goldmation retrievers are large dogs and typically have a longer coat than purebred Dalmatians. Their colouration ranges from golden blond to black with a variety of brindle, tricolour and spotting patterns possible. They are playful, friendly, energetic and fond of running. A goldmation retriever requires a yard or daily walks.
The Dog Registry of America recognised sharmatian is a hybrid of Dalmatian and Chinese Shar-Pei. The sharmatian has a short coat that varies in colouration from solid colours to sables or spotting. It may have characteristic Shar-Pei wrinkles or have the sleek, smooth build of a Dalmatian. They are playful, protective and work well as watch dogs, but have a tendency to become dominant and stubborn if not handled firmly.
The Dog Registry of America recognises the chimation as a chihuahua Dalmatian hybrid. Chimations tend to be small dogs, though typically not toy sized like purebred chihuahuas. Their colouration varies, depending on the colouration of both parents, and they have short coats. Chimations are playful and energetic but require firm but kind training from a family able to show leadership and authority. Without the proper leadership, chimations tend to become disobedient, jealous and occasionally aggressive.
The bodacion, recognised by the Dog Registry of America as a border collie and Dalmatian hybrid, is typically medium-to-large with a long coat. As with the other Dalmatian hybrids, the bodacion's colouration varies. They are energetic, hardworking and intelligent. Like purebred Dalmatians, bodacions need both physical and mental stimulation daily. Owners need to display leadership over bodacions. Without proper leadership and stimulation, bodacions may challenge their owner's authority and become destructive.